The Book of Negroes: Reader Response

The book I am reading is “The Book of Negroes”. I have begun to admire Aminata Diallo who was stolen from her village at the age of 11 to become a slave. She lived in Bayo, a small village in Africa, and was the daughter of Mamadu Diallo and Sira Kulibali. She was both a Bamana and a Fula.

When she was abducted, her mother was killed by the captors. She watched as “another man intercepted her (mama), raised high a big, thick club and brought it swinging down against the back of her head” (Hill, 38). Along with other Africans, Aminata was eventually boarded on a ship that was headed to South Carolina where each and every one of them would be sold into slavery.

One thing that really touched me on their boat ride to South Carolina was when Fanta had killed her newborn baby (130). At first, I wondered why she would do such a horrible thing. She had carried that baby for so long and was her chance to finally have a family. But then I realized she didn’t want her baby going through what she did. She didn’t want her baby to be raped, beaten, or work as a slave. She knew that her baby would live a better life dead than alive.

I felt very sorry for Aminata and the other African’s that were abducted and sold into slavery. It is very uncommon, especially in Canada, for people to be slaves that are beaten, raped, and mistreated. I can’t even begin to comprehend how those slaves were treated. Honestly, how can one possibly mistreat someone like that? These people were chained up at some point and then were forced to do heavy and hard labour. If they refused to do work or didn’t get enough done, they would be beaten. How is it their fault if they didn’t get enough done? Clearly their bodies aren’t physically able to do the work that is asked of them, probably because they have been beaten so many times so their bodies are all crippled and don’t work like they used to. The reason I can’t fathom this idea, is because people aren’t treated this way! It is absolutely wrong for one to keep one as a slave and beat, rape, and treat them unfairly. The only thing that is treated similarly to this is animals. But even then, it is completely wrong and unheard of. Being raised in a non-violent, caring, and loving home, I could never imagine being treated like Aminata and the other Africans.

Even though this book is fiction, I think that Lawrence Hill, the author, chose to write this book because it teaches people about what happened years ago. Slavery was a thing, and still is in some places around the world today. People were beaten, raped, and mistreated because they were a slave. Almost all slaves were black, perhaps because a majority of people were racist back then and considered black people weaker than white people. I think that he wrote this book to appeal to the reader’s emotions. With today’s society, it is impossible to think that that could have happened. By hearing it from someone who lived a life in slavery and how they overcame it put the reader in their shoes. We were able to imagine ourselves as the main character, Aminata, and were able to realize how horrible the life of a slave really was. I can honestly say that I cried many times throughout this novel.